It was a cold evening in the park…

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As I trekked down the trail, I was joined by some birds and a few other woodland critters. As usual there were some curious deer, watching from among the trees. Only one ventured close enough for me to take a clear picture. She opened her mouth, as if to ask if I had a treat to share with her.

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When I wandered down the path to the split rail fence, hoping to see the elusive red-bellied woodpecker this evening, the first critter to catch my eye was this squirrel, who paused  on top of the fence post long enough for me to capture his picture:
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Farther up the trail, I walked out onto the pedestrian bridge and saw a human critter, a fisherman, standing in the middle of the river, casting his fishing line into the darkening water. I didn’t hang around to watch because I was beginning to feel chilled by the wind whipping up the river and seeping through  my protective layers. To my eye, fly fishing is like  poetry in motion, so I snapped a few pictures before moving on. Despite the cold, the fisherman seemed to be enjoying his lonely occupation.
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Back at the fence corner, I watched as a greedy house sparrow landed on the fence post and snitched a couple of peanuts.

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Still, I waited, hoping to see the red-bellied woodpecker, and finally, my patience was rewarded when he flew in and landed on the post. With a sigh of delight, I clicked off a few pictures.

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The evening wasn’t quite over yet. As I stood there, camera ready in my frozen fingers,  I witnessed a confrontation between two sparrows and a black-capped chickadee over who was going to grab the next peanut.

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When one of the sparrows picked up the peanut, I grabbed my last photo and headed home. Cold but happy, I had enjoyed my trek along the trail this evening.

Thanks for trekking with me!
See you soon. ~Trail Walker

Evening in the park

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This little herd of deer was standing near the split rail fence, one of my favorite bird watching locations, when I went to the park with my camera on Sunday evening. They were more interested in browsing than curious about what I was doing, so I decided to take their picture before I headed out for a little bird photography.

The light was getting low, but the birds were still active, and this time I had remembered to bring a handful of peanuts to reward them. There were cardinals, both male and female, nuthatches, downy woodpeckers, and more. Here is the woodpecker gallery:


The male cardinals were wearing brilliant  red coats this evening. Maybe the light had something to do with making them look especially beautiful. The female cardinal, sitting by herself in the branches of a nearby tree, chose not to pose with the redcoats

Then there were two downy woodpeckers:
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And a greedy nuthatch…
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And finally one of my favorites, the red-bellied woodpecker, put in an appearance. She was being somewhat elusive this evening. She swooped past, but didn’t stay for long, and I missed my chance to get her picture. This happened several times. Every time she came close, I was too late with the camera. To say the least, I wasn’t on the top of my game, but finally I was ready, and here is the result:

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It’s a good thing too because the sun was getting low and I was getting cold. I was happy to call it a night. Thanks for coming out on this chilly evening.

I’ll see you soon.
~Trail Walker

Birding on New Year’s Day

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Not a bird!

I spotted this pretty doe standing in the meadow on the other side of the split-rail fence. When she walked in my direction, I decided she should be the featured image for my New Year’s Day post, even if she isn’t a bird. So here she is!

Now on to a few birds. Because the morning was cold and overcast without even a glimmer of sunshine, some of my images came out blurry (Reminder to me to pay closer attention to my camera settings); however, a large and varied flock of little birds were flitting around near some fallen trees, probably because someone (not this someone, but possibly another photographer better prepared than I) had sprinkled a few bird seeds on the ground to celebrate the holiday!

After a while, my frozen fingers and toes (and my growling tummy) signaled that it was time for lunch, so I reconnoitered with my walking buddies, and we trekked along the trail back to the parking lot and headed home.

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Bob and Mabel

Today’s walk reminded me again that any day is a good day for a trail walk, even when the sun doesn’t shine. Thanks for walking along with us today. See you soon.

Sunshine or clouds, I’ll see you along the trail.
Trail Walker

 

There’s nothing quite like it!

 

Nothing quite like what, you ask? Well, to be honest, you may or may not agree with me, but I maintain that there’s nothing quite like a trail walk in the first real snow of the season. It isn’t even winter yet, just the downhill end of Autumn, but on this December morning we woke up to snow-covered trails, slippery slopes, and frigid fingers. And oh, how glorious to walk down the trail through a pristine white world…such a contrast to our earlier Autumn walks.

I’m reluctant to admit it, but Autumn with its blue skies, crisp air, and vibrant palette has truly come to an end, and we are faced with Winter: the season of boots with cleats to prevent slipping and sliding, gloves that challenge me as I try to press the shutter button, and lenses (the camera and mine) that constantly fog over as I exhale in the frosty air. Winter brings with it a myriad of new challenges for the trail walking photographer, but new joys come with the challenges. Here are just a few that I spotted along the trail this snowy morning:

Whitetailed deer
The does are more curious than fearful.
A female northern cardinal
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White-breasted nuthatch
Another cardinal. The red male cardinals were hiding today!
A stare down with two does!
I’m not sure of the identity of this bird, but it posed perfectly!

That’s it for today, trailwalkers. I hope you liked this preview of sights we’ll see on future  wintry walks. Be sure to wear lots of layers and get some cleats to put on your boots for our next winter walk.

Thanks for trudging down the trail with me!
Sharing the trail makes each walk extra special.
~Trail Walker

Is it vacant now? A bluebird catastrophe

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A story I didn’t have the heart to tell until now.

Mr. Bluebird has just peeked into the nesting box. Perched on top, Mrs. B. is wondering if the box is available. “Have the sparrows left?” she queries. “Can we move in?” (That’s my guess at their conversation based on their actions and the expressions on their tiny faces.)

 

A few months earlier, when summer was at its peak, Mrs. B, with a little help from her mate, had diligently built a nest in this very same box. When the nest was ready, the time had come. She laid three tiny eggs in her carefully constructed nest, and both parents went to work keeping watch over their brood. Day after day, she tended the nest, making occasional quick trips outside to pick up more twigs and a grub or two, carrying them back to the nest in her beak. Sometimes Mr. Bluebird would bring her a grub or a worm, although he mostly patrolled the neighborhood, doing his best to keep the house sparrows and blue jays away from the little family.

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Sadly, his best wasn’t good enough. One morning, when Momma and Poppa were both briefly out of the nest, an intruder got inside. How do I know that? I know because I had been keeping a close eye on the nest from my nearby kitchen window. Seeing the pair of beautiful blue birds, tending the nest so carefully, brought me great joy.

I checked on them every time I passed by the window, and then, one morning, tragedy struck. I glanced out the window and was horrified to see a house sparrow sitting on top of the nesting box, and the bluebirds were nowhere to be seen. I checked the nest often for the next few days. Occasionally I spotted Mr. Bluebird, perched on a nearby branch or on one of the feeders, his eyes scanning the neighborhood, but the momma was nowhere in sight. The house sparrows were around though, entering and leaving the nesting box they had quickly claimed as their own.

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Finally, after a few days, we opened the box and discovered three tiny eggs, with a hole pecked in each one. We sadly cleaned out the box, hoping an empty box would discourage the sparrows. It did, but except for a very rare visit to the neighborhood, the bluebirds were gone. They didn’t return to the nest.

Then one day, months later, at the end of October, I was excited to see a bluebird, not just one, but a pair of bluebirds, in the backyard. I began to keep a close eye on the nest, as I had months earlier, and eventually, as I watched, Mr. Bluebird entered the nest, not once, but several times. And one of those times, a house sparrow flew up and tried to enter the nesting box when the bluebird was already inside. With a flurry of feathers and much beating of wings, the brave bluebird repelled the invader, as I stood at the window and cheered.

 

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Mr. Bluebird defending the nest!

What will happen next? I don’t know. I’m rooting for Mr. and Mrs. Bluebird, but the sparrows are persistent. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

Please keep your fingers crossed too.
I’ll let you know what happens!
Trail Walker

Simply backyard birding

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This week has been hot and steamy, absolutely my least favorite kind of weather; however, yesterday afternoon a storm blew through. The temperature dropped and the steamy humidity dissipated. Yay!  Today has been blissfully cool. Exactly the kind of weather I enjoy! Apparently the birds like it too because they were a lot more active this morning.

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Lady hummer enjoying the flowers

I was delighted to see her enjoying the bright colors because that is what I most enjoy about summer. It’s definitely not the heat, but the color that I like most about this season, and apparently the hummers like it too. All too soon they will head south on their annual migration, and they will be sorely missed. I didn’t get a very sharp picture of her flitting in the flowers, but she also appreciated the feeders I had filled with fresh sugar water yesterday.

One of the surprising sights this morning was the downy woodpecker, surprising because he was investigating the empty bluebird box.  To my delight, early in the summer, a pair of bluebirds had moved into the box, and I spent many hours watching them. They gave me a a great deal of joy, but suddenly one day they were gone. Sadly they have not returned, and I discovered that the house sparrows had entered the nesting box and destroyed their three little eggs. I was a long time getting over that shock, and I didn’t even want to post any of the many pictures I had taken of the bluebirds. Maybe some day, but not yet. But today here is the male downy woodpecker, checking out the nest. I wonder if he is looking for a home for the colder days that are coming? Maybe we will need another box if the bluebirds return next summer.

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Looking in the door
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It was a tight squeeze, but he got inside.
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A competitor or a mate?

I didn’t have much more time for backyard birding this morning, but I captured three more shots: a little house finch and two shots of a chubby red-bellied woodpecker feasting on the suet cakes.

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Thanks for visiting.
That’s all for now, but I’ll post more pictures on another day.
Trail Walker

Darn spring cleaning!

Sometime things around the house require my attention. I try not to let that happen too often, but when it does, and I begin to trip over the dust bunnies, something has to be done about them. That has happened to me recently. Consequently, I haven’t been out on the trail with my camera very often. Sad, but true! However, I have managed a few trail walks recently and some backyard birding, so I finally have something to post on my blog. Today. I’m sharing a few shots taken through my kitchen window. Let me know what you think.

To my delight, the bluebirds have been in and out of the nesting box multiple times per day. They make me smile on a regular basis! The blue jays and red-bellied woodpeckers are also faithful visitor to the seed cylinders and suet.

And then, on occasion, the pileated woodpeckers will swoop in for a meal.
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The last picture made me hold my breath until I actually got the shot. Never before has one of the big ones landed that low in the yard, and I was afraid she would fly away before I grabbed a shot or two. My hubby had planted some colorful flowers in a plastic tray on top of one of the stumps just outside the kitchen window, and they apparently attracted her eye. Since this visitor doesn’t have a red mustache to match the red crest, I’m pretty sure it’s the female. Both the male and female are nesting somewhere in our neighborhood. It’s exciting to have both stop in at the same time.

That’s all I have time for today. Thanks for visiting.
Come back soon!
~Trail Walker

Weather report

Although the calendar indicates that we should be enjoying Spring, Mother Nature has refused to cooperate. In the weeks since the reportedly “gentler season” officially began on March 21, we have experienced mostly cold and/or very damp weather…the kind of weather that does not draw me out for trail walking with my camera. As a result, even though the birds have been out and about, this trail walker hasn’t been!  Consequently, three weeks into the month, I have a very meagre collection of April images to share; however, here are a few birds that agreed to pose in the middle of their daily activities:

After momma great horned owl, pictured above, another regular to show up was my favorite, the red-bellied woodpecker:

 

 

Following Mr. Redbelly, is another woodpecker, the little downy, but he didn’t pose for long, and, as light was leaking out of the afternoon sky,  I only captured one image of him.

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Other regulars willing to pose, despite the cold, were the perennial popular cardinals and blue jays:

 

 

Last, but of course, not least, even though they are the smallest, is the black-capped chickadee.

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Believe it or not, he had just walked through that arch on the fence post.
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And came out with a large piece of peanut.

Daylight was vanishing, so I decided to close up my camera and head home for supper. On this chilly April afternoon, I was glad to be leaving the park with a few pictures captured on my memory card. Hopefully, the weather will improve soon, and I will have more pictures to share.

Here cometh April again, and as far as I can see the world hath more fools in it than ever.

Here’s hoping our weather (and other things) soon improve!
Feel free to leave comments. I love to chat with you.
Trail Walker

Regular birds, but irregular weather

Walking down the trail a few days ago, I saw and heard a bird I didn’t recognize. Sitting by itself on the branch of a tree, it was singing a happy song. I’m sure it was just as delighted with the warm weather and sunshine as I was. Here are a couple of pictures of the happy bird. It sounded like a phoebe, but I’m not sure that’s the right ID. If you  know, please let me know in the comment section below.

Correction: Eliza Waters took the time to identify this happy songster as an Eastern Towhee.  That qualifies it as one of our regular birds. ~Thanks, Eliza.

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Unfortunately for both the happy songbird and me, the weather changed drastically last night, and the temperature has dropped some 30 degrees as clouds and, now rain, moved in! Sigh! 😖  However, despite the changeable weather patterns (that I blame on our location on the south shore of Lake Erie), spring is bound to come sooner or later. We’ll just have to wait a little longer.

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

To complete today’s post, below are a few more “regular birds” I enjoyed along the trail this week.

 

 

Thanks for visiting, friends.
Wishing you sunny days and blue skies!
Trail Walker

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